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Oaksterdam News

Medical Marijuana of America

MMA3

 Monday, 10
December 2007

Joe
Zoretic, Ohio

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Written by Rob Ryan
  

Monday, 03 December 2007

Joe Zoretic and his wife Dee
Dee attended the 2005 Ohio Democratic Party
Dinner

Joseph Stephen Zoretic
December
25, 1968 to August 27, 2007

The Ohio Patient
Network
was quite saddened to learn of the
untimely death of one of its founding members.
On August 27, 2007, Joe Zoretic suffered a
massive heart attack resulting from an
undiagnosed heart condition. He was 38 years old
and resided with his family in Lakewood,
Ohio.

Joseph Stephen Zoretic was born in Cleveland,
Ohio, on December 25, 1968. He spent his
elementary years in nearby Maple Heights and
high school years in Parma. He worked for Sabre
Enterprises of Cleveland for 13 years as a Cold
Header / Machinist.

Joe met the love of his life, wife Dee Dee,
in fall of 1989, and the two were married on
November 27, 1992. They have one son Stephen who
was born in 1993.

Joe became involved with the other ‘love’ of
his life, drug policy, in 1992 via emerging
online community bulletin board systems, now
known as the Internet. Like many young people of
his time, he realized the inherent inaccuracies
and injustice of the popular “Just Say Know”
programs of the 1980s that resulted in the
arrest his friends and their coercion into
unnecessary drug treatment facilities.

Joe joined North Coast NORML in the early
1990s and participated in several
marijuana-focused activities. The urgency behind
his growing obsession with drug policy came into
focus when Dee Dee fell at work, injuring her
right arm. A very painful and incurable
condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
set in quickly disabling her. The searing pain
and onslaught of atrophy in her arm rendered
conventional pain relievers inadequate. It was
Joe who realized that cannabis could offer a
solution, and he didn’t hesitate to make it
available to her and to personally assume the
consequences of her medicinal use.

The couple were arrested and prosecuted twice
by the Lakewood Police Department, once in 2002
and once in 2005. As a result of the second bust
on five counts of felony possession and
cultivation of marijuana, Joe spent almost a
month in jail. At the conclusion of both cases,
however, they received no jail time and small
fine of $100, a groundbreaking small sentence
for its time.

These busts propelled the couple into
becoming well known, high profile medical
marijuana activists. While Dee Dee became a
skilled professional speaker on the subject, she
credits Joe for the ideas and strategies that
inspired her.

In early 2001, John Hartman of North Coast
NORML introduced Joe and Dee Dee to a new group
that was forming for Ohio patients on the
Internet. Hartman asked the couple to check it
out, and as a result, they became founding
members of the Ohio Patient Network (OPN) and
its lobbying arm, the Ohio Patient Action
Network (OPAN).

Joe’s resume of drug policy reform
accomplishments is notable, although he rarely
took personal credit for them:

• By composing a letter to the Cleveland
Plain Dealer, secured a spot in the televised
2002 gubernatorial debate between sitting
Governor Bob Taft and challenger Tim Hagan in
which Dee Dee asked a poignant question of the
candidates about medical marijuana.
• Pitched
the venerable and wide-ranging Cleveland WMMS
Morning Show about medical marijuana and set up
two hour-long interviews concerning their bust
and the consequent plight of medicinal cannabis
patients.
• Stopped a Driving while Under the
Influence of Drugs (DUID) ordinance from moving
forward in Summit County by twice testifying
before Summit County Council.
• Secured two
prominent stories about medical marijuana and
the Zoretic family in Cuyahoga County’s Scene
Magazine, one of which featured a photograph of
the family on the cover.
• Spoke at the
Hempfest in Columbus and two of the five Million
Marijuana Marches he attended in Cleveland.

Served as a trustee of Ohio Cannabis Society and
as its Director of Education.
• Was an active
member of the Lakewood Democratic Club and a
volunteer for several local political campaigns.
With Dee Dee at this side, attended a number of
high profile political events such as the annual
Ohio Democratic Party dinners.
• From his
jail cell after the 2005 bust, helped to form
OPN’s lobbying arm, the Ohio Patient Action
Network for which he served as its first
Executive Director. He then became President of
the organization in 2005 and Vice President in
2006.

Joe loved heavy metal music and played lead
guitar in several rock bands. He was an avid
amateur geologist, who scoured the local Metro
Parks for rocks, minerals, crystals, and fossils
with his father-in-law and young son. He was
also an amateur herpetologist, collecting
various snakes, reptiles, and amphibians. He
maintained a large collection of sports cards
and memorabilia from Cleveland teams like the
Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers.

Joe is survived by wife Deirdre A. Zoretic;
son Stephen Zoretic; parents Patricia and James
Uthe; mother-in-law Carol Jones; and many other
loving friends and family. He was preceded in
death five months ago by his beloved
father-in-law Ted Jones.

A memorial service for Joe will be held at
Brecksville Reservation, Chippewa Road,
Brecksville, OH, on Saturday, September 8, 2007,
beginning at 4:20 pm.

The upcoming North Ohio NORML Harvest Fest
Fundraiser on October 6-7, 2007, will feature a
concert and tribute to Joe. It will be held at
the Chippewa Valley Campground, 8809 Lake Road,
Seville, OH, located near the intersection of
I-71 and Rt. 224. For more information, please
call 330-948-9399.

Tax-deductible donations may be made to the
family and in honor of Joe to the 501(c)(3) Ohio
Patient Network, P.O. Box 26353, Columbus, OH
43226.

For more information about the Zoretics and
medical marijuana, please contact the Ohio
Patient Network at the aforementioned address or
by telephone at 1-888-647-2843 or e-mail at
info@ohiopatient.net.

Joe honored in US House of
Representatives

Joe’s wife Dee Dee asked me to cross post
this message and tell everyone that she spoke
with Rep. Kucinich’s office this afternoon. As
with the similar honor bestowed on Joe by the
Ohio House of Representatives, which passed a
resolution in his memory, Dee Dee and Stephen
will receive a letter from Rep. Kucinich affixed
with the seal of the U.S. House acknowledging
this speech and its entry into the Congressional
Record. For the Zoretic family and the Ohio
Patient Network, this is a poignant and touching
tribute; for the movement it may be a milestone.
Dee Dee wanted me to enquire as to whether other
reformers had received such an honor. If you
know the answer to this question, please let us
know. Otherwise, it may well represent one of
the first of such acknowledgements, not only of
marijuana as medicine, but also of the movement
and all of us who have worked so hard to change
these unjust laws.

Thank you, Joe,
wherever you are. You made a real and tangible
difference. 
Your friend.  Mary
Jane Borden, DrugSense/MAP & the Ohio
Patient
Network
________________________________

[Congressional
Record: September 17, 2007
(Extensions)]
[Page E1885] From the
Congressional Record Online via GPO Access 
[wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr17se07-29]

IN REMEMBRANCE OF JOSEPH STEPHEN
ZORETIC

______

HON. DENNIS J. KUCINICH 
of Ohio  in the US House of
Representatives

Monday, September 17,
2007

Mr. KUCINICH. Madam Speaker, I rise
today to reflect on the life  of a
courageous and passionate man, Joseph Stephen
Zoretic, who dedicated his life to fighting for
sensible drug policy and to free others from
suffering. Along with his devoted wife, Dee Dee,
he was a founding member of the Ohio Patient
Network and its lobbying component, the 
Ohio Patient Action Network. Joe started his
life-long residency  in the Cleveland area
on December 25th, 1968.

He became an active figure in the medical
marijuana movement in the 1990s, when his wife
was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
and needed cannabis to relieve the pain other
medications could not. Since then, Joe provided
policy ideas and inspiration to the state
marijuana legalization activist community, from
speaking at mainstream political events to
testifying for better drug policy. Even if it
meant going to jail, Joe stood up for what he
knew: that love and bravery can overcome
injustice.

Madam Speaker and colleagues, please join me
in honoring and remembering an extraordinary
husband, father, citizen, and activist, Joseph
Stephen Zoretic, who demonstrated the power we
all possess to make change in this
world. 

 

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